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  • U.S. 230 S of Harrisburg at Steelton line Steelton, PA

In 1785, John Harris Jr. made plans to lay out a town on the 800 acres of land his father had acquired in 1733. Harris hired his son-in-law, William Maclay to formally survey the town that spring. For a short time, the town was known as “Louisbourg” after King Louis XVI of France, but Harris insisted the town be named for his father. About the same time Harris and Maclay were planning the lots for Harrisburg, Harris helped to organize Dauphin County, named in honor of King Louis’ eldest son, out of a portion of Lancaster County. Harrisburg became the county seat, and grew quickly from a borough of 500 at its incorporation to 13,000 when it received its charter as a city in 1810. Harrisburg became Pennsylvania’s capital in 1812. Throughout the 19th century, Harrisburg served as a stop on the Underground Railroad, the home of the largest Federal training camp during the Civil War, and the location of the country’s first steel plant.